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Soundtrack of the Month 06/2008: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Soundtrack of the Month 06/2008: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

June 1, 2008 | | 5 Comments Share thison Facebook Soundtrack of the Month 06/2008: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Windon Twitter

Nausicaä is actually a cool movie about the environment if you can believe such a thing exists. Giant bugs, the voices of Patrick Stewart and Mark Hamill, the creative vision of Hayao Miyazaki, and most importantly, the music of Joe Hisaishi (okay, maybe not the most). I don’t joke, however, when I say that Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is my favorite Miyazaki film, so it makes sense that it is also my favorite Hisaishi soundtrack. Its blend of orchestral majesty, bizarre electronics, and clever effects make it a memorable score worthy of our top pick for the month of June.

Find out why I care so much after the jump.

This album is pretty old. I can’t even claim to have grown up with Nausicaä as it was released in 1984 (the year of my birth). In that sense, I’m pretty amazed that it’s made such an impression on me without the relying on nostalgia. From the first note to the last, and most of everything in between, Nausicaä has its own unique atmosphere.

The opening track, “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” begins with a wandering organ progression and deep, throbbing percussion samples that are an effective accompaniment to the toxic, overgrown world depicted in the film. A majestic string and piano section follows, setting the stage for an epic struggle. The next track, “Stampede of the Ohmu” starts with a lullaby-esque belltone progression that acts as the calm before the storm as distinctly 80s synth rock segment kicks in, complete with wailing guitars to simulate the roaring stampede of the giant bug-like ohmu (clever, see?).

“The Valley of Wind” provides ethnic guitars and rhythmic bongos that lend a world flavor to the album, while “A Princess Who Loves Insects” is highly reminiscent of “Corridors of Time” from Chrono Trigger with a beautiful guitar melody and a fat synth line that in combination are inviting. The soothing “Interchange with the Ohmu” features a child’s voice singing, “la, la, la” to the melody with heavy reverb on the voice creating a dream-like setting.

“In the Polluted Sea” is my favorite track with electronic choral pads at the same dreary organ progression from the opening piece. The odd progression reminds me of some of Hiroki Kikuta’s early work. It provides a meditative atmosphere that I’ve visited frequently over the years. Breaking the peace is “Annihilation of Pejitei” that alternates between a tense, repetitive synth line and the roaring guitars of the ohmu as they wreak havoc on the city of Pejitei. The closing piece, “Bird Person,” is fitting with sweeping string sections and triumphant brass along with a wind section that adds a distinctly Asian flair to the European fantasy mood that dominates the rest of the score.

With Hisaishi said to be working on Miyazaki’s upcoming film, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, we have more to look forward to in the future. With over 100 albums to his name, he is truly a force to be reckoned with, and I hope more people around the world find their way to his art.

So, any fans of Joe Hisaishi out there? Which of his works are your favorite?

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